Being injured in a car accident is the last thing anyone expects when they get into a vehicle. However, the injuries caused by car accidents can be catastrophic and life-changing. When the victim is pregnant, car accident injuries can be even more severe.

Instead of one victim, there could be two victims. The woman’s unborn baby can sustain catastrophic injuries because of the car accident. Additionally, the pregnant woman could sustain injuries specific to the pregnancy.

Immediate medical attention is required when a pregnant woman is a driver or passenger in a car wreck. Prompt medical care could prevent life-threatening injuries for the mother and the unborn child. 

A pregnant woman in a car wreck can sustain common car accident injuries such as broken bones, whiplash, spinal cord injuries, and brain injuries. However, a pregnant woman may also sustain one or more pregnancy-related injuries in a car crash.

Potential pregnancy-related injuries that are common in car accidents include:

Injuries to the Uterus

During pregnancy, the uterus is extended and enlarged. Therefore, there is more risk of injury to the uterus during a collision. 

The crash could cause the uterus to tear or rupture. In severe cases, a uterine injury could result in life-threatening conditions for the mother and the unborn baby.

Placental Abruption

Any damage to the placenta during pregnancy could reduce or cut off oxygen and nutrients to the baby. Placental abruption occurs when the placenta partially or entirely detaches from the uterine wall before delivery. If the car crash causes the placenta to detach or become damaged, the baby could suffer from brain injuries, tissue damage, cerebral palsy, or stillbirth.

Injuries to the Unborn Child

In some cases, a car accident could result in direct injuries to the child. The force of the collision could result in brain damage if the baby’s brain shifts within the skull. A baby could sustain other physical harm during the collision that could result in a miscarriage. 

What Are the Signs That the Mother or Unborn Child Could Be Injured?

It is wise for a pregnant woman to see her doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. A doctor needs to check her and her child for injuries. However, some signs indicate emergency medical attention is required.

Signs that indicate that the mother should go directly to the emergency room may include:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Urgent or painful urination
  • Contractions
  • Physical trauma to the abdomen
  • Change in the baby’s movements
  • Severe headaches
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chills or fever
  • Swelling

Some symptoms may be immediately noticeable after a car accident. However, it could take several hours for some symptoms to appear. Mothers may want to stay awake for several hours after the accident to monitor for symptoms or signs of injury.

Do Seat Belts and Airbags Help During a Car Accident?

Some pregnant women may worry about additional injuries caused by airbags or seat belts in a car accident. Even though these safety devices could cause injury in some car accidents, it is recommended that pregnant women continue to use these devices each time they are in a vehicle. 

However, there are some steps that pregnant women should take to prevent injury from seat belts and airbags when riding in a car:

  • Make sure that shoulder belts fit across the center of the chest
  • Lap belts should be worn under the stomach so that they cross the pelvic bone and hips
  • Adjust seats so that they are in the upright position to avoid gaps between the seat belt and the shoulder
  • Adjust seats to sit as far back from the steering wheel as possible, but still allows for the safe operation of the pedals

Pregnant women should not drive a vehicle if their stomach touches the steering wheel. If you are concerned about the use of seat belts or airbags, talk to your physician. Physicians may restrict riding in cars for some pregnant women or offer additional guidelines based on a woman’s specific condition.

Filing a Car Accident Claim When You Are Pregnant

If a car accident caused you or your unborn child injury or harm, you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. Filing a personal injury claim could result in compensation for your:

  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Loss of income, including wages, benefits, salaries, commissions, and bonuses
  • Decreases in earning potential because of permanent impairments
  • Mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Permanent impairments and disabilities

The amount of compensation you might receive for a car accident claim depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. 

If you are unsure what to do after a car accident, you can seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney. Delays in pursuing a personal injury claim could result in losing your legal rights if the statute of limitations expires on your claim.